Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13 (featuring Bardo Pond, Girlpool, Moosh & Twist and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13
Photo by Ola Baldych |

I don’t want to gush. But I’d be lying if I said that this latest collection of performances from The Key Studio Sessions wasn’t special to me.

In the past four months, I’ve recorded one of my favorite Philadelphia bands of the past 20 years – shamanistic psychedelic rock masters Bardo Pond, whose performance was a thrill – as well as one of my favorite new Philadelphia bands – the brilliant duo Girlpool, transported locally from LA this winter with a unique sound and an incredible collection of songs in tow. I also recorded a local guitar icon whose work I’ve admired since I first began covering the scene for City Paper 15 years ago, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, doing a set of his raga-influenced compositions on the 22-stringed chaturangui. (Brenner also sat in on lap steel with folk outfit Kicking Down Doors.)

And that’s only the beginning. Continue reading →


Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Wesley Geiger, Ember Schrag and more…

Wesley Geiger
Wesley Geiger | Photo courtesy of the artist

Wesley Geiger‘s new El Dorado is an impressive debut steeped in the country traditions of Texas and California. Bruce Warren pinpoints moments of Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt on the record, which features collaborations with Midlake’s McKenzie Smith and The Texas Gentlemen. Download “As The Crow Flies” below.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Son Little at Winterfest, Kicking Down Doors at Boot & Saddle, Nah at Cha-Cha’razzi and more…

Son Little
Son Little | Photo by Kelsey Stanger

Son Little (aka Aaron Livingston) performs a Fireside Session at Winterfest tonight, continuing a series of monthly concerts curated by The Key. The blues / rock musician and Roots collaborator was just added to the line-up of SXSW where he’ll showcase last fall’s Things I Forgot EP. Livingston was also recently on World Cafe, where he sung his breakthrough track “The River” and filmed a live performance of “Joy.” Listen to the appearance here and watch the video below. More information for the free Fireside Sessions can be found here.

Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Kicking Down Doors

In many ways, Philly-area country folk combo Kicking Down Doors got together by accident. Singer / lyricist Autumn Walden came across singer-guitarist Ernie Tokay at his Little Spiders Have Big Dreams Studio in Chester County; before they’d even known each other for a day, they’d already written a song together. The two musicians clicked so readily and had such a productive streak of writing music together that the project quickly became a functioning band; first a trio with bassist Michelle Lynn, and later a five-piece with Josh Steingard on drums and Stacy Weathers on banjo. Continue reading →


Six locals to catch at the 2014 Philadelphia Folk Festival

Kicking Down Doors
Kicking Down Doors live at the Mermaid Inn | Photo by Valentine Gorski | via

Every year you’re bound to catch a smattering of local music at the Philadelphia Folk Festival – from the Helen Leicht-curated WXPN Philly Local Stage (which we’ll preview tomorrow) to the Folksong Society’s Philadelphia Music Co-Op (which has given rise to Cheers Elephant and Toy Soldiers). The 2014 festival, however, is particularly strong in highlighting the music of the Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania region. Here are six local artists to make sure you catch as you’re making your way around the Folk Fest grounds this weekend. Continue reading →


Tin Bird Choir, A Fistful of Sugar, Sweetbriar Rose, and Kicking Down Doors set to rock a benefit show this Friday at Steel City Coffee House

Tin Bird Choir | Photo courtesy of the artist
Tin Bird Choir | Photo courtesy of the artist

When a bunch of Philly folk bands team up, only good things can come of it and this Friday’s benefit show in Phoenixville is just that. Tin Bird Choir, A Fistful of Sugar, Sweetbriar Rose, and Kicking Down Doors will play at Steel City Coffee House to raise money for Phoenixville Area Community Services (PACS) which works to provide basic necessities for those in need. Tin Bird Choir’s Heather Hurlock says of the event:

“We really wanted to do something to raise awareness for PACS. They’re a local organization that helps the working poor of Phoenixville with everything from food, housing, utilities, and health needs. Their mission is to empower the people to achieve self-sufficiency. Our song ‘We Are the Working Poor’ resonates with people for a reason. There are a lot of us (working poor) and we need to help each other out when we can.”

Watch Tin Bird Choir’s video for “We Are the Working Poor” below and get tickets here.